Exclusive: Couple speaks about bat attack on Northwest Side; Kenneth Keel arrested

February 6, 2014 (CHICAGO)

It's been nearly a year since Linda and Dennis Tisdale came face to face, they say, with 29-year-old Kenneth Keel.

"Every time I closed my eyes, I saw this man's face that attacked my husband," said Linda Tisdale, wife of beating victim.

"I remember his eyes," said Dennis Tisdale, beating victim. "Just the hatred and the anger, and why it was there, I don't know."

It happened last March on the city's Northwest Side. The Tisdales were walking in the street because of snowy sidewalks when Dennis says he was clipped by the mirror of a passing minivan.

"They stopped, and the guy got out and started screaming, "You hit my car." And I'm like, 'No, you hit me with your mirror.' And he kept screaming at us, and then he pulled a bat out of the car," said Dennis Tisdale.

That man, police say, was Keel, who allegedly began swinging and brought Dennis to his knees.

"He took the bat, swung it down at the top of my head," said Dennis Tisdale.

"As soon as he spoke, he couldn't. Nothing came out right. And that's when I knew something was very wrong," said Linda Tisdale.

His next three days would be spent in a coma.

"When I first came out of the coma, the kids were scared of me. The shaved head, the black eye, bruised up jaw," said Dennis Tisdale.

Months of physical and cognitive therapy followed as Dennis made a remarkable recovery. And then on Wednesday, 11 months after the attack, the Tisdales were called to a lineup.

"I saw the eyes, and I knew right then and there that that was him," said Dennis Tisdale. "It looked like he was scared. . . I've forgiven him. I just hope that he gets the time he deserves, and he uses that time to become a better person."

Police say Keel was arrested after talking about the alleged attack with a relative, who then turned him in. He's been charged with felony aggravated battery.

Dennis says he's not 100 percent, but he is back at work and is just grateful he wasn't hurt worse.

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